Maine School of Science and Mathematics teams compete at world robotics event

LIMESTONE, Maine and LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Nine students from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics attended the 2019 VEX Worlds Robotics competition in Louisville, Kentucky, April 23-28.

The 4393S team, comprised of Madi McCarthey, Wes Chalmers and Chandler Pike, won four of their 11 qualifying rounds after completely rebuilding their robot following the state championship.

The 4393Z team, comprised of Ethan Kelley, James Lau, Ryan Oh, Alex Nikanov, Federico Galbiati and Harrison Ma, also won four of their 11 qualifying rounds. During two of their rounds they were solo, as their alliance partners were either disqualified or were a no-show.

According to Amber Jeskey, MSSM’s international coordinator and instructor of English as a second language, the competition was a truly global one, with more than 500 teams in attendance from countries such as: Paraguay, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Germany, Tunisia, Mexico, Colombia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Spain just to name a few.

“The students enjoyed meeting their alliances and forming strategies for success against their opponents. It was truly a positive experience,” she said.

One of two Maine School of Science and Mathematics teams to compete in the recent VEX Robotics World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, included the Maine State Robot Skills Challenge Champion team, from left: Dr. Anders Gårdestig, James Lau, Ethan Kelley, Ryan Oh, Harrison Ma (kneeling) and Alex Nikanov.
(Courtesy of Maine School of Science and Mathematics)

“Thanks to Texas Instruments, Robotics Institute of Maine, and MMG Insurance for sponsoring part of this trip, as well as the parents who made the long trek with us, Kathleen and Joel Pike and Betsy and Josh Chalmers,” Jeskey added. “We are truly grateful for your support.”

The two teams secured spots at the national contest through their success at the VEX Robotics Maine State Championship, held in South Portland, where Team 4393Z received the Robot Skills Challenge Champion award and Team 4393S earned the Robot Design Award.

The state event attracted 50 teams of students from middle and high schools.

McCarthy said about being a VEX team captain that the experience allowed her to learn about applying robotics in the real world.

“Building the robot is only a small part of the larger design process. I have to keep track of what all of the team members are doing in a detailed engineer notebook and I’m also responsible for making sure they stay on track with our goals and deadlines for the robot,” she said.

“Being a captain is not an easy job and I have learned a lot of leadership skills as well as patience and organization skills.”

According to the Robotics Institute of Maine, more than 2,000 high school and middle school students are actively participating in the state’s various robotics competition programs.

“Competitive robotics can make a significant impact in helping to address Maine’s skilled workforce shortage,” said Kyle McLellan, chair of RIM’s executive board.

“Unfortunately, our current education system is not adequately inspiring students in our state to pursue majors and careers in STEM fields. These competitions and the work and dedication required to get there help students develop STEM knowledge in a sport-like atmosphere, and the necessary skills to be successful in pursuing a technology-based career.”

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